The Ceremony (2008)
This movie seemed to be one of those privileged college kid stupidly makes contact with a demon and pays the price, slowly, as paranormal happenings start and build to the end. Sigh. And since The Ceremony is hardly an original title, and this was a low budget movie, AND a picture search brought up every freaking ceremony ever held in 2008, I found just two pics that were any good, sorry. I made a checklist to see if this movie is just like every other PA movie (even though it only cost $155,000 to make):
Movie Element Yes No
Kid already has more money than you X
Mess is all his fault X
You just want the kid to die fast X
Hand held/found footage X
PA from a creak to all furniture moving X
Satisfying conclusion X
Endless scenes of PA equipment being set up X
Kid looks like he stepped out of GQ X
Okay, so it only had a couple of annoying features, but a pretty decent story. This is a one man movie: Eric is a college student living in an affluent frat house. He's just graduated with a degree in psychology and has been offered a great opportunity in Seoul, Korea. He's packing up, and a bit miffed because his frat buddy Jared was supposed to be there to help him clean the place up, so they can get their deposit back. So he's packing, cleaning, and trying to write one last term paper before his trip. A call to his folks about the job was kind of flat - here he's going clear the hell to Korea and his mom just says okay. Okay? Wow. Keep it down mom.
So we see him cleaning by himself, watching TV, dozing, basically doing everything BUT writing his term paper. Jared says he would be there but he's flunking a class and so is making arrangements for an extra assignment to graduate. As Eric cleans up (he's an ordinary looking kid, scar on his lip but handsome) he looks into Jared's bedroom. On the floor in a circle of lit candles is a book. Mostly thinking of the fire hazard he blows out the candles and curious, picks up the book. It's in a strange language (this book is supposed to be really old but looks like it was printed in a common font - whoops) and you know it's gonna be about something supernatural.
He just kind of casually looks through it - attempts to pronounce some words but none of it makes sense to him. But the weirdness begins anyway. This is the usual movie PA stuff - first it's a sound like footsteps, then doors open or close, and the whispering begins. Eric's interest in the book is distracted by his certainty that someone else is in the house - but the phones are acting up and he can't find anyone. He looks on the internet for a sort of translation but it lets him down so he contacts a professor and emails him part of the text. Later the professor calls him back, telling him basically it's a prayer to Satan (duh) and a plea for an exchange. What exchange? A soul for knowledge.
Oookay. Now he hasn't been messing with Ouija boards or Tarot cards, he didn't perform a ceremony, but he seems to be caught in one anyway. I have to give props to Scott Seegmiller who plays Eric - he carries the whole movie by himself and portrays just the right amount of confusion, fear and dread. I just wish the director had paid a little more attention to Eric's face - sometimes he has stubble, sometimes he doesn't. Small point.
Now things are really starting to happen - we've moved up to furniture moving, cabinet doors opening and closing (spirits love making messes out of houses) and now Eric finds that not only can he play complex piano compositions, he actually can understand (and speak) the language in the book. Which comes in handy because the 'man in white' mentioned in the book is starting to appear (or at least be heard) and Eric tries to find out what the dude wants. His soul. Duh. So Eric, despite himself keeps finding himself looking through the book as the house basically goes nuts like leaves in a whirlpool. Oh, and looking in the mirror his reflection (when it's not moving on its own) shows that his eyes have turned completely black. He's screwed.
Finally Jared calls again. Eric asks about the book. After a pause, Jared admits that Eric WAS the assignment - he knew he couldn't resist starting the Ceremony, which apparently began the moment Eric blew out the candles and picked up the book. Oh, a Happy Birthday Ceremony huh? Realizing what a douche his so-called friend is he makes his decision. He tells the ominous man in white that he wants to pass this on to another 'soul', thinking of Jared of course.
We see the next morning the house is perfectly clean and of course there's not a single sign anything strange has happened. Eric hears Jared drive up and just waits. He hears footsteps going up the stairs...
Going to the stairs (which are conveniently by the door) he runs into Jared who has just now come in. He looks up the stairs wondering who went up before... we then see that Eric's family had showed up with balloons and gifts, meaning to surprise him for his successes. His baby sister for some reason has gone into Jared's room and when the mother shows concern that there's candles left lit on the floor the little girl bends over to blow them out...
I guess even nice guys don't get to have happy endings.